The Kingdom of Tonga

The 250 nm passage from Niue was quick and uneventful… the qualities of a good trip. The upside of the crazy conditions at Niue is that the ocean swell felt normal as we set sail. We really did enjoy our stay there (it was definitely worth it) and can’t imagine that we will meet nicer people anywhere else. Everyone was incredibly friendly, kind, and welcoming, especially Ira and Keith at the Niue Yacht Club.

We left Niue a couple of hours behind Orkestern and Ninita but overtook them quickly with our big blue and white asymmetrical spinnaker. It was the first time we’ve used it since a few hours on the Mexico to Marquesas leg. It was a great sail and we all took spinnaker photos of each other. Boat photo shoot in the South Pacific! I would’ve loved to get an aerial shot of us sailing away from Niue, especially when SV Sophie caught up and joined the chute-flying rally.

Saturday July 29th didn’t exist for any of us because we sailed across the International Date Line. We are still trying to figure out how this makes sense for our grib files (downloaded weather forecasts, based on UTC time)…. I suppose it doesn’t and we shouldn’t waste too much brain power trying to figure it out.

Two dawns later, we arrived at the west entrance to the Kingdom of Tonga’s Vava’u group. We’d heard the squid-shaped island chain described as ‘tropical Gulf lslands’ and that is a depiction we completely agree with. We entered the protected waters as the sun came up and shimmered over the blue-green water and lush flat-topped islands. I think our weeks here are going to be some of the best cruising we get to do: flat water, finally some sunshine! (we feel like it’s been cloudy for the past month), protected anchorages on dozens of small islands, snorkelling, cave-exploring, beaches, etc., etc.

The check in process to Tonga was extensive. We pulled up at the customs dock at the town of Neiafu and waited for interviews with four very official Officials: Customs, Immigration, Health & Safety, and Agriculture. They inspected the boat and our papers as we filled out forms, trying to get smiles out of them as we plied them with juice and coffee. It was tough.

We had planned to take it easy and relax for a few days (yes, it’s hard to find time to do such things out here), but our schedule has filled up quickly. Tomorrow we’re all going sailing and fishing on SV Sophie – can’t wait. On Thursday we’re going out on ‘snorkel with the humpback whales’ tour…. Yes, you get in the water them! And on Saturday we’re all going to a Tongan Feast (traditonal pig roast… there are pigs everywhere here) on one of the islands. On Sunday we have another interesting adventure planned….more about that later.

So, as you can probably tell, things are going well for us once again in Tonga. Very very well, indeed 🙂

Will and Sarah at the Mango Cafe in Neiafu... with Hazel, who snuck in ;)

Will and Sarah at the Mango Cafe in Neiafu… with Hazel, who snuck in 😉

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